Editorial cartoon combines fallacies

1703-Cartoon

Scott Shepler’s editorial cartoon in a recent Community Word is an interesting example of a combination of the straw man fallacy and an ad hominem argument.

The art was run in conjunction with an editorial by Clare Howard about the Feb. 11 Defund Planned Parenthood rallies, so it appears to be referencing that event.

I realize editorial cartoons involve exaggerations, but this one was too extreme, irrational and ironic to pass up, especially considering that its depiction of the event was the opposite of what actually transpired on that day in the 2700 block of Knoxville Avenue in Peoria.

Scott’s cartoon was an ad hominem attack in one sense because it tried to make the side he disagreed with look ridiculous. It was a straw man argument because it misrepresents arguments made by the pro-life side.

The person on the left, wanting Planned Parenthood to be defunded, is portrayed as practically ejaculating his opinion, nearly apoplectic. The person on the right, defending PP, is calm and cool and rational in her responses.

For the two hours that I was at the actual competing rallies, however, the pro-lifers exhibited self-control and respect, while some—not all, but some—PP supporters didn’t. Here are a few observations that conflict with Scott’s cartoon:

  • The main organizers and most of those appearing on the pro-life side were women, not men.
  • Profanity and vulgarity were used among the pro-PP group, both on signs (“This is my bitch face”) and in speech. Not true with the pro-lifers.
  • As pro-lifers gathered at the northern end of the block, several Planned Parenthood supporters, not content with superior numbers, decided to move down the street and stand in front of the pro-lifers to block passing drivers’ view of them (see photo below). One of those blocked from view was a pro-life woman in a wheelchair. To accomplish this, the PP supporters had to stand in the street. Police came by to tell them to get back onto the sidewalk, which they did for a minute. Then they stepped back into the street.
  • Pro-lifers extended kindness to those supporting Planned Parenthood, going through the crowds of the latter and offering hot chocolate (it was a chilly morning), granola bars, and bottles of water. Again, portraying pro-lifers as belligerent contradicts what actually went on.
  • As food and drink were being offered, some Planned Parenthood supporters either tried to block the path of the person offering the treats or told others “Don’t take it.” 
  • One PP supporter entered the ranks of the pro-lifers yelling insults.

As for the arguments being made in the cartoon, real life is, of course, more complex. Here is one organization’s “Top 12 Reasons to Defund Planned Parenthood Now.” They’re not quite as simplistic as Scott  would have us believe.

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